Who died and made you ‘God’?

On a recent tour, I met a stranger who later became my good friend. A ‘learned friend’ as the lawyers always call themselves especially in the close company of people they disregard as equally learned.

Who died and made you God?

Not that it’s my habit to fit in, but I found this one character very fascinating in speech, character, and in her ability to intellectually sequence thoughts.

As so often is the case, many people talk about everything now and very little later. One of the many we talked about at our first meeting was death!

Weird as it sounds, I really found the conversation so captivating. It was only then that I realized how amazing we not only fear death but also can’t sustain a minute conversation about the subject especially when the main theme is focusing on us.

I was thrilled by the ease with which my new learned friend went about sharing her laid out pre- and post-death plan. Her readiness for death and how she already figured out her funeral arrangement, her estates’ custodians, among other things. Almost as if she had everything succinctly sorted out in life and death.

What was more intriguing than surprising was the fact that in her distinguished pre- and post-death plans, she constantly insinuated how ignorant people like myself were blind to figure out such issues of ‘paramount’ significance. She insisted that I immediately follow in her shoes and draw up a ‘plan’ or else I would be living a ‘useless’ life!

Before I could lay my head down that evening, I shared the lessons learnt from my learned friend with my sister with so much enthusiasm - trying to display my ingenious plan about life and death. Only to be shocked by how dense I sounded - based on my sister’s response.

My sister couldn’t stop laughing at how many ‘young’ women like me fantasize about death! “Who can tell the way of life and death?”

The next morning I talked to a religious fanatic colleague, and he told me that all was vanity! “It is like chasing wind, my sister!” he stated emphatically.

I was left not only puzzled, but also unable to stop pondering about who and what was the right or wrong thing to do. I later reckoned that my experience is likely similar to that of so many people around the world.

As humans, we are constantly told how to live, think, act, talk, and literally have to do all these the way we are taught. We are grown to be submissive, to believe, wear, and never ask why! What our body shape should look like and why it is critical that we lose or gain weight.

It’s often one extreme over the other, it's either black or white in most people’s minds. The troubling thing is that while we are busy losing weight, someone else walks by and insists that we gain some weight - insisting that we looked so attractive with some weight in the past.

Before we can deeply digest the suggestion, someone else starts whispering into our ears that weight doesn’t matter. “You eat your food! Have more of this and that. What matters is the brain! What good is the eye if the brain is blind?” they go on to ask.

What remains true is that we are left quite disturbed and often more confused than we were before we lent our ears out, an experience known in psychology as cognitive dissonance.

Conversely, what is more true is the fact that the very people imposing their views on us also express deeper feelings of fear, fantasy, or unconscious bias. It is a sense or desire among some people who seek to have control of ‘everything’ and everyone, well-watered by a deep-rooted urge for idealized perfection.

Certain feelings such as the aforementioned are not only embodied in people but also are alive institutionalized attitudes and practices that are entrenched within media, and workplace cultures.

Such impositions, although in certain scenarios are well-intended, often exude unintended psychological effects and become barriers to inclusion, and diversity.

These often cause stress, depression, anxiety and feelings of low self-esteem and if not addressed can lead to isolation, self-harm, and are proven to be drivers of mental health illnesses.

Suffice to note that while I neither see any wrong with a pre-post death plan, nor a weight loss or gain program, I feel concerned that most people are not conscious and are unaware about the psychological effects of imposing themselves, ideas and views on others.

Think about this in this way, who died and made you God over other people? Where do you draw the confidence to know what is best for everyone?

Imposing our views on people is not only indicative of judgement but also causes people to withdraw emotionally, and become unmotivated to accept us.

Little wonder that after a while, we are confronted with the same stalemate we had at the beginning. When a person thinks and behaves in ways that exclude others, that person is equally likely to experience at least some level of exclusion.

Let’s not try to be heirs of God but rather understand that we are all human and entitled to live under our rules as long as they are harmless to our wellbeing and others.

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Laetitia Mugerwa is a Ugandan writer, and founder of Empowerment Initiative for Women and Youth Uganda that helps rural women and youth attain economic empowerment through skills development.

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Pulse Contributors is an initiative to highlight diverse journalistic voices. Pulse Contributors do not represent the company Pulse and contribute on their own behalf.

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